Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

News: 01-30-2008 – Edwards NO kingmaker, Vermont traitors, and Middle East and Chinese snow

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 30, 2008

Well, so much for the brokered convention idea…

So two days after the whole idea that Edwards is eyeing a brokered convention in order to become Kingmaker and wield some power, the anticipation balloon has popped. I must admit to being a bit disappointed. You see, a month ago this was shaping up to be a dandy and potentially historical year. There seemed to be a real possibility of at least one, if not two, brokered conventions.

Imagine the excitement surrounding a convention where the delegates are voting, without knowing in advance who the nominee is! On the Republican side, we had Huckabee winning Iowa, McCain winning New Hampshire, and Romney taking care of business in Michigan, Wyoming, and Nevada. There was the prospect of a Giuliani win in Florida, and possibly even a Thompson win in South Carolina. But now McCain has won two states in a row, leading to a Super Tuesday that appears to have two viable candidates: McCain and Romney. The only possibility of a brokered convention is if Huckabee captures a few states next Tuesday. There are a couple states where this seems to be a distinct possibility, but even that may not be enough to cause the turmoil that was eagerly anticipated.

So, as hopes faded that the GOP would be awash in utter confusion, our dreams of history turned to the Democrats. Obama and Clinton have been clearly the top dogs jockeying for position here. But thanks to the proportional nature of pledged delegates, as long as Edwards continued to get some reasonably strong third place finishes, it looked like he could eat up enough delegates to prevent a majority of them being pledged if the race between Obama and Clinton stayed close. Reports as recent as two days ago suggested that this was Edwards’ strategy.

And then… poof. Giuliani and Edwards withdraw today. Not that I’m a fan of either, mind you. But I wanted a little history! Color me disappointed.

The only thing I have left is a situation where Obama finishes ahead of Clinton, but the Florida and Michigan delegates, which don’t count for the Democrats due to primary timing infractions, would be enough to push Clinton over the top. If that happens, expect a great deal of whining. I guess that could be fun.

We will arrest these men! (If we can get past the Secret Service, anyway…)

In possibly the most ridiculous waste of time imaginable, Brattleboro, Vermont, will actually vote on a bill on March 4, basically saying that if Bush and/or Cheney enter the town, local police will arrest them for “crimes against the Constitution.”

OK, regardless of what your opinions are of Bush and Cheney – and I understand that there is a fair amount of disdain out there – come on!

It has been suggested that the President should make an appearance and see what transpires. Could make for good theatre.

But seriously, this is just stupid, and despite what you think of Bush, it is irreverent to the position. Opinions are one thing. Calling your Congressman is one thing. Calling for the arrest of the President? Quite another.

Very classy, guys. Hope you’re all proud. I’m sure you actually think you have a lot of support because you got a few e-mails from fellow hatemongers. But you look like two-year-olds.

Snow in Baghdad, snow in Jerusalem, cold 2008, but world still warming

As many have said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Now, I won’t get into the details of the global warming debate here, but what I do know is that this winter is a good old-fashioned butt-kicking where I live. Heaps of snow, numerous blizzards, extreme cold, all that good stuff. Today, for example, the high temperature is -2 Fahrenheit. And I have taken stock of the entire winter – this is not an exceptional day, nor does it seem to be isolated to our parts. It has snowed in Baghdad for the first time in memory. Jerusalem got pelted today. Hundreds of thousands are stranded in China after blizzards have shut down key transportation. Siberia is ridiculously cold. And so on.

We are told that the world is still warming. Perhaps it has, but the argument is one of presenting one statistic and just riding that until the wave crashes. 1998, according to this article, is the warmest on record. I get confused, because some people tell me it was 2005. And 2007 was supposed to be, and started off warm, until a pesky cold snap brought it down to just above average. We have yet to hit that 1998 peak (which also always ignores the heat of the 1930s, but I digress). We are told that the last ten years is the warmest decade on record. I suppose next year, we’ll hear that the last 11 years is the warmest 11 years on record. It helps to get that warmest year in the data, after all.

Now, I am not debating the claim. But it still doesn’t explain why. But I have a little exercise for you. Draw a cyclical wave on a piece of paper. Notice how that wave increases and increases and increases until there is a peak. Then notice how it decreases. Divide that wave into increments. Imagine that it is temperature. What is the highest average of the last few periods. Hint: it is not at the peak. The highest average lags the peak because the temperatures on the downside of the peak are still as high as the temps just before the peak. It takes a while for the average to drop.

The main problem is this idea of looking at trend as a simple line, or imagining that it can only go in one direction. History shows this simply is not the case, yet it is the basic idea behind all these statements about how the earth is going to warn n degrees.

At any rate. We sure could use some.

Just talk to China about Global Warming

I know science is not anecdotes. But the world is awash this year with enough of these stories that it becomes an exercise in frustration when they are all dismissed as an exception. To me, it is disingenuous, and only reinforces the idea that there is no room for debate.

China is being hammered by winter. Nearly 400,000 homes have literally been destroyed by the winter weather. Crops have been devastated. Nearly 500,000 people were stranded at one train station as they attempt to get home for the Chinese New Year.

Please offer them up in your prayers.

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3 Responses to “News: 01-30-2008 – Edwards NO kingmaker, Vermont traitors, and Middle East and Chinese snow”

  1. tamino said

    Those who state that 1998 was the warmest year on record are referring to data from the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit (HadCRU) in the U.K. Those who state that 2005 was the warmest year on record are referring to data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Those two organizations provide the most oft-used estimates of global average temperature in the scientific literature and in the popular press. Some also use the data from the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), but this is far more rarely referred to in news stories; NCDC also puts 2005 in first place. If you’re interested in a direct comparison of these three global estimates, it’s here.

    Perhaps one of the reasons you perceive that the “world is awash” with anecdotal stories suggesting the falseness of global warming, is that those who wish to deny global warming have done an outstanding job of making a big noise about it, while the anecdotes which suggest the opposite don’t have a big PR machine publicizing them. For example, in a place known for cold temperatures especially in winter, Sweden wonders where winter went.

    I believe your claim about the location of the highest average of a pattern of cyclic behavior is mistaken. I’m a mathematician, specializing in the statistical analysis of time series, so I have some experience in such matters.

    Your statement “which also always ignores the heat of the 1930s” is patently false. The 1930s extreme warmth which has been so greatly publicized applies to the lower 48 states of the U.S. only, an area covering less than 2% of the globe. As for not yet hitting the 1998 peak, it’s not really meaningful but its significance is overrated due to a common and entirely natural lack of understanding of statistics; the noise inherent the climate system is quite a bit larger than the signal, which makes such a circumstance inevitable even as global warming continues unabated. You may find this post enlightening.

    The biggest mistake you make is to claim that “The main problem is this idea of looking at trend as a simple line, or imagining that it can only go in one direction. History shows this simply is not the case, yet it is the basic idea behind all these statements about how the earth is going to warn n degrees.” This is a very persuasive claim by those who wish to deny global warming, but it’s just plain false.

  2. Diatribical Idiot said

    Thanks for your comments. I note, as an anecdote, your reference to Sweden. In fact, I was discussing this very thing with a person in Oslo yesterday, as part of my work, which by the way is as an actuary. So as far as an understanding of mathematics and trending goes, I don’t really need the assist.

    In the conversation with the business contact in Oslo, in the same breath that he mentioned their own mild winter, he also marveled at the cold winter to the south of them. His comment was that it was “upside down.”

    Now, I suppose that this, like most other things that happen that are a little quirky, is a suggestion that the climate is changing. Or, it couold just be that it’s a quirky year in certain spots. I challenge anyone to find any year on record where some place or another doesn’t have a quirky year.

    I’ll admit that I threw the 1930s out there without differentiating between the U.S. and golbal temps. Thanks for making that clarification.

    Also, thanks for pointing out the three different studies where the estimates are drawn from.

    However, in all of this I stand by the general argument. You will not agree, and you will call me a skeptic or denier who has drunk the Kool-Aid, which is somewhat of an irony, in my opinion. Be that as it may, I will continue to be considered the bad guy for trying to interject reasonable common sense into the matter.

    You see, as an actuary, I work with an develop a great many models. Any mathametician can do the same. What separates the mind-numbed robots from those with any value is the ability to know when to use the numbers as produced, to understand and admit the limitations in the data and the models, and to finally just “know” when common sense must prevail. I can point to many times where every model points to a conclusion that I know is wrong, and I will simply disregard them all and make a recommendation based on common sense, experience, and judgment. I cannot remember a time when I have gone this route and was wrong.

    I have not, nor will I deny, a recent warming trend. Anyone who denies the cyclical nature of such trends is as blind to the science as they claim me to be. Talk of global warming continuing unabated, talk about anthropogenic global warming as fact, talk about an increase in sea levels by 20 feet when the IPCC suggests something far less severe, patently ignoring historical cycles… Time to apply some reasonable judgment to the issue.

    In 20 years, I suspect we will be no warmer than we are today. In fact, logic apart from the sacred mathematical model suggests that the average temps over the next 20 years will be cooler than today. If I am wrong, then I can rightly be chastised. If I am right, I wonder how long it will take the scientific community to finally abandon this mission.

  3. tamino said

    I wouldn’t call you a denier, you seem to be a skeptic. After all, you seem to suggest conditions which would change your opinion — not the sign of an ideologue. I myself have recently outlined conditions under which I would conclude that the current concensus is mistaken and I’ll change my viewpoint.

    I think if you delved deeply into the scientific research it would moderate your skepticism.

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